I wake up and remember that I still have to ride down off of the ridge. I go out into the field and get my food bag and eat as I break down camp. After loading the bike I head back to the trail and get on my way. Quickly the trail gets steep and loose. It is what I am thinking are pieces of slate. It is like tiny ice blocks sitting on top of one another and the hill is as steep as a half pipe. I try to get back behind my seat as far as I can. My seat bag, filled to the brim, prevents this. So I ride it out as long as I can. Which isn’t very long at all if you are wondering. I let go of the handle bars and jump off the side of the bike. I slide and roll and there could have even been a cartwheel in there. I survived. I crawl back up the hill on all fours to retrieve my bike. The rest of the way down, I hold both brakes as tight as I can, dig my heels in like I am in snow, and make the least graceful slide descent you could imagine.
Back on flatter ground, I get back on my bike and ride into town. The gas station has a pile of breakfast burritos. I grab three of them, fill my bike with all the food I can and go outside to eat and read the maps. One can only assume from the taste that 50 percent of the ingredients in the burrito were salt. They taste like licking a salt packet. I am a problem solver so I go back in and get hot sauce. Problem solved. I choke them down and hit the road. There is actually a very nice inn along the way that offers racers all kinds of wonderful things. Wifi, AC, food and comfy couches. I want nothing to do with it. If I stop I will be there for hours. So I keep on pushing right past it. I am staring the whole time riding by, but I not going to stop. Five minutes down the road a Jeep Cherokee flies up next to me. “Are You Mike?” Confused I say. “Yeah”. “Pull over. I have a message for you” He then proceeds to tell me that he monitors a message board for the race and a that a friend of mine from home asked him to relay a message. Shaner wanted to tell me they were all rooting for me and that I was crushing it. My heart is once again happy. He gives me a couple bottles of water and I am on my way. A little ways down the road I meet Steve. He is actually a pretty cool guy and lives only a few hours from my home town. We chat for a few minutes and he is off into the sunset. I ride this dusty trail for hours.
It is not a busy road by any means but there are steady farm trucks coming from both directions at a regular intervals. That is when it hits me. My need to take a poop goes from 0-100 instantly. There is a log banging on the door full force as I slam on the brakes and for the second time today leap off of my bike. The bike is ghost riding down the road and I am tearing my pants down just in time for a whole turd to fly out of me. It looked like I flipped a Snickers bar out of my back pocket. I was completely finished. My need to poop goes from 100-0. I get a wipe from my backpack, clean up and get back on the bike. I would estimate the whole chain of events was under 1 minute. Efficiency. Back on the bike I go. I pedal off into the dust horizons. Climb, descend. Climb higher, descend. The rollers are getting higher and higher. It is getting hot out and I need to filter some water. It isn’t as available as it was in Canada and Northern Montana. As I head through a cattle farm (lots of the trails cut right between ranches) I see a nice clean stream running. I stop and take off my pack and get my filter and bottle out to fill up the bladder. I run one cycle through the filter. When I look up the cattle are closer to me. Weird. I take my helmet off and fill the bottle to filter more water. I hear the cattle mooing. I look up and they are walking closer. I start to filter water. Next thing I know there is a cow jumping, I know it sounds crazy, it was jumping around and going wild. The rest of the cattle start mooing and closing in on me. I quick fast and in a hurry, throw the bottle with the filter still attached in my pack, grab my helmet with one hand and bike with the other. The cattle follow me, going nuts all the way to the bottom of a little hill. I drag my bike to the top and look back. They are all standing in the road looking into my soul. I shudder and get my gear back on and ride.
I ride for little longer and then I get to a beautiful decent in between spectacular bluffs. As I cruise down the mountain I am in awe. It is fantastic. Near the bottom and about 20 miles from town I stop because I am out of water. Damn cows. I climb down to the mountain stream and get ready to filter some water. It is right out of a painting. There is even an old man fly fishing. I am trying my best to use the Force mind control trick to get him to invite me to his house for fish chips and beer. He doesn’t. After I get the bladder filled up I roll the rest of the way into town. I have to ride down a paved access road and then under the interstate.
When I get to the other side I can see a gas station, motel and a restaurant. What more could a man want? I go to the motel office to get a room. They are booked. All of the rooms are doubled up already too. Crap. So I head over to eat and make plans. When I walk in, I see the whole gang is there. I eat as much food as I can and there is talk of everyone staying in the park. The town is ok with that. I ask if we could stay out behind the restaurant and use the electric outlets to charge our gear. That isn’t really something they want us to do. A few minutes later, they come back and tell us that we can rent a cabin. The guys are milling it over and I say I will take it. I don’t care how much it costs. I have taken one shower in eight days. Not to mention not taking one after peeing all over myself. All the guys agree they are down to split the costs. So the four of us go over to the 1950’s cabin. We take showers. Number 2. Talk about tomorrow’s ride and all pass out in short order.